When we decided to book a winter break to Edinburgh I was super excited about choosing where we would go to eat. After just a few minutes of research it became clear that Castle Terrace, Edinburgh was a must visit.
Opened in 2010 and receiving its first Michelin star in 2011, Castle Terrace cooks up modern British cuisine with incredible innovation and creative flair. It’s nestled right at the bottom of Edinburgh Castle making it a beautiful and romantic place to enjoy a meal. With an ethos of “from nature to plate” we were pretty confident that we were going to like what we ate.
When we arrived the incredibly warm and friendly waiting staff greeted us, took our coats, showed us to our table and promptly handed us the drinks and food menu. We quickly opted for the Chef’s Land and Sea Surprise Tasting Menu and as if by clockwork, for the next 3 hours we were treated to course after course of delicious tasting food interspersed with some fantastic and imaginative cocktails.
One of my favourite things about the meal was just how amazing the serving staff were. They were friendly, chatty and knowledgeable but knew exactly when to take a step back and let you enjoy your meal.
For the most part, each dish was presented in clever, artistic ways which were arguably forms of art in their own right. It was clear that the chef really wanted to show off local produce at its best. And I did feel a little as though the ingredients had been placed in front of us, done up in their Sunday best. Perhaps rather unexpectedly however the best tasting dishes were not the ones that looked the showiest.
The two stand out dishes for me were the ox tongue and spelt risotto, and the ‘Castle Terrace Style’ hand dived scallops in a light curry sauce. The ox tongue risotto was a very well rounded dish that was incredibly rich but insanely moreish at the same time. It was course #5 and by this point I was becoming quite full. Nonetheless I happily devoured spoon after spoon and could have kept on going if it wasn’t for the plate being taken away and the next course arriving. The scallop was another delicious dish and with its Indian influences was a welcome break from the more traditional British and French fare.
The vegetarian sushi also deserves a lot of praise and I insisted on eating half of Jon’s. The salmon version was just too rich for and as a result lacked the balance the dish needed. Had the dish been made up of both salmon and khol rabi I think it would have been perfect.
Because of the restaurants ethos of “from nature to plate” vegetarians are extremely well catered for. Each ingredient in each dish is chosen because it is a star on its own. They have therefore been able to cleverly recreate each dish with just a few small changes so that both meat eaters and vegetarians are eating similar dishes. I really enjoyed this because it didn’t feel like Jon was getting the short straw. It may have cost less but the quality certainly wasn’t lacking.
Overall, whilst we had a fantastic evening and the service as well as the taste of the food couldn’t be faulted, my only complaint was that in their desire to show off the best of their skills and creativity the result was a somewhat disjointed menu. The menus at both Timberyard and the Gardeners Cottage were clearly designed to showcase the ingredients, whereas I felt the menu at Castle Terrace was designed to showcase the chef’s skill. I think Jon summed it up well when he asked “was there any need for more than one tiny burger?!”
Whilst the food was just as tasty as at the other two restaurants we visited, the clever techniques distracted a little from the beauty of the food itself. Have you ever heard of a chicken caeser salad in a ice cold bubble sat on top of a croûton of sorts?! Neither had I…